10 Summer Hazards for Dogs

dog swimming

Summer time and the living is free and easy, right? For dogs, maybe not so much since there are many summer hazards that can adversely affect dogs. See how many of these statements you think are true and how many are false as they apply to summer hazards for dogs:

Ice cubes are a great way to keep my dog cool in warmer months and pose no danger.

FALSE. Ice cubes are not always safe. They can present a choking hazard if consumed whole, as with any treat or foreign object. According to petmd.com, ice cubes are not a cause of bloat, as this is an urban myth.

A dog’s pads protect them from hot pavement and cannot be burned or harmed.

FALSE. It is a myth that a dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather. Though a dog’s pads contain much fatty tissue that does not freeze as easily as other tissues, protection against scuffing, burning, scraping, cutting, and hot damage is crucial in summer months.

Musher’s Secret is a barrier, food-grade wax for dog paws/pads that acts as an invisible boot. Developed in Canada for sledding dogs, apply a thin coat on pads and between toes, weekly. It dries in seconds and does not stain, is nontoxic, non-allergenic and priced starting at $12, depending on size. Good on hot pavement, sand and sand burn, snow and ice, salt and chemicals.


A dog cannot get sunburn while traveling in an air-conditioned vehicle.

FALSE. UV rays are as harmful to pets as they are to humans, even in an air-conditioned car. Vet-recommended sunblock and in-car sun shades will keep your dog safeguarded en route and during your stay. A dog’s coat protects them in the summer and provides warmth in the winter, so use caution in grooming. short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn.

Knowing where the nearest emergency veterinary clinic is while on vacation might save your dog’s life.

TRUE. Be prepared. While an emergency visit to the vet isn’t on your vacationing “to do” list, inevitably some of us will encounter this situation. Locate the nearest animal emergency clinic prior to leaving for your trip or ask staff upon checking in. Access to this emergency information while vacationing might just save your dog’s life.

Dogs can die within minutes if left unattended in a hot car.

TRUE. Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. Not only is he/she susceptible to heatstroke and/or death but also theft.

Summertime Pet Safety
All dogs innately love to swim and are natural born swimmers in the water.

FALSE. Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Never force a dog to swim. The AKC has some really good tips and info about water safety for dogs.

Dogs only need heartworm protection in the warmer months when mosquitoes are most prevalent.

FALSE. According to petmd.com, “With the unpredictability of the weather in recent years, no particular months or seasons are guaranteed to be mosquito-free.” Use protection and discuss the best form of it with your veterinarian.

Dogs are cooler with shorter haircuts in the summer.

FALSE: Not always. Though it is helpful to keep your dog’s fur and nails trimmed during the summer months, shaving pets for the summer can actually predispose them to sunburn and make them more prevalent to heatstroke. According to Veterinary Insider, “Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. On the contrary, matted, unkempt hair coats stifle air circulation and do little to help cool the body. In other words, daily brushing is a must during the hot, summer months.”

It’s okay if my dog drinks water from the lake or stream since it will keep him or her hydrated.

FALSE. Hydration is imperative, and unrestricted access to fresh, cool water is imperative year-round. Standing water, such as puddles may contain chemicals. Lakes and streams can carry a number of diseases, so keep Fido away from these sources of water.

I should not exercise my dog during summer months.

FALSE. Dogs need year-round exercise but be cautious about how and when you exercise a dog in the warmer months. Dogs are people pleasers, so they will not generally let their pet parent know when they have had enough. Early morning or after sunset are general times to use when exercising a dog, but be cognizant of the humidity, temperature, and other environmental factors before proceeding.



A child’s pool filled with water is a safe option for my dog’s cooling needs in the summer months.

TRUE, with a caveat. A kiddie pool filled with water can cool a dog and he or she should be supervised during times of immersing in the water. Warning: Change the water often to prevent mosquitoes from harboring in and around the area.


For more pet safety news and tips and to enter a contest featuring your pet being safe this summer, visit BlogPaws and their Pet Safety Month theme!



  1. PLEASE, also keep in mind that leaving a dog in a car with the air-conditioning running to keep him/her cool is NOT SAFE. The small condensers in air conditioning units in vehicles (even big trucks) can and do completely freeze up in short periods of time, leaving just hot air blowing into the vehicle. This has happened to me before I knew what a danger I was putting my dog in, and it could have been very very bad.

  2. Thanks to Carol Bryant, we used Musher’s secret when we were in Salt Lake City, Utah last year and the temps were in the 100’s. Worked great.

    Good article.

  3. This is pawsome! I use ice for my chickens, but in the form of frozen gallon jugs, closed. I put them in deep shade and the girls hang out near them. It’s like AC. Great for dogs, too.

  4. Excellent, truly valuable advice. I put Musher’s secret on the boys paws at every stop on our cross-country trip. I also researched and mapped out where the nearest emergency vets were at each place we stayed along the way. My boys truly enjoy our cool twilight walks in the summer months. And I really appreciate you pointing out that summer haircuts are not appropriate for all dogs. I get irked when I see sad shaved breeds (huskies, collies, etc) that use their coats to stay cool.

    • That means a lot to hear from you, Bethany, especially as you are a traveler with your dogs. Thanks!

  5. I knew the hot asphalt was bad, but never heard of Musher’s secret. I will get some today. Thanks!
    Also, How do you apply sun screen on a dog? My Japanese Chin has lots of pink skin and I don’t want him to get sun burned. I do keep him clean and brushed so he is staying cooler this summer. When we adopted him is coat was matted and dirty. He doesn’t take much to brush him everyday as his coat is just one layer. He loves the attention. He is such a goofy boy!

    • Ronda, What I have done is apply it to my fingertips and then get it into the surface layer of skin on the dog’s exposed parts (back, head, ears), taking caution not to get in eyes or near mouth. Don’t use anything with zinc oxide, as the dog can become dangerously anemic if ingested. I would check with your vet or use a baby-safe sunscreen without zinc oxide. I love Japanese Chins!